Wednesday, March 4, 2009

letting the baby breathe

I created this blog for the express purpose of writing more about the authors I have had the honor or horror to interview and the books I have slogged through, sped through or otherwise read as the Book Editor for Style Weekly. The spillover. The chafe. The extra thoughts that didn't succinctly squeeze into my modest column. But in the interim, I have developed my alter ego- Bad Valley, shared about my son's desire to grow a vegetable garden and publicly wrestled with my angst over losing my job, the family health insurance and a slew of the other regular, stable factors that this american life seems to require.

Two months ago I resigned from my position as book editor. Having told my mother at the age of 7 that I wanted to grow up to be a famous reader, it was like a real life fairytale when the then arts and culture editor- who had entirely rewritten my first article- offered me the position of book editor. It was my DREAM job- right down to having no idea what the hell I was doing and making a whopping $50 per month. I could read the day away and claim- truthfully- that I was working. I got LOADS of FREE books and the opportunity to talk to the masterminds that wrote them. I got to run around town picking up books and ferrying them between reviewers, the art director and myself and then back again, just to get a good shot of the cover. I got to ask myself life's most important questions: Should I judge this book by its cover? Would the hero want to marry me? Am I prettier than the heroine? Does laying it this way make my coffee table appear more clean?

No, seriously. I was like a kid in a candy store. All the books I could eat. But then something started to happen. To my blood/reading saturation level, I suppose. Instead of being inspired as I was for the first 4 years, I began to be depressed. If there are this many good books already out there, why the hell should I bother with mine? This book is a perfect 10 and in comparison, mine is a negative 3. I started to judge my rough draft against the edited, polished and published books I was reviewing. I couldn't take it bird by bird because I was watching all these bald eagles soar from their nests. Or some ornithological writing analogy like that. In short, I ran my own writing into a big, fat ditch and let it rot there. I burrowed deep into my left, critical, analytical brain and stood by as it beat my right brain's tender shoots to a bloody pulp. So. I quit.

Now I'm trying to let my preemie newborn draft breathe. I'm trying to make my reviewer/judging/critical brain take a nap and quit being so cranky. I'm trying to let go of word counts and deadlines and good vs. bad and other polarizing, critical brain desegmentations like that. And since I have, my little draft has taken its first baby step. Yes, it fell on its face and stubbed its toe, but it's getting up to try again. And this time I promise not to yell and scream and run away just as its learning how to walk.

(Shhhhhh! During nap time I might write an article. Or two.)


  1. I love reading your writing.

  2. Oh, that newborn can grow up to be a lovely novel, held in your hands. Not that I've managed the novel part yet, but I'm ever hopeful! :)

  3. this is inspiring...and a little crazy.